But it's still very good! Let me start with a little backstory. I attend RIT in Rochester (we call ourselves the MIT rejects), the largest techincal institute in the country. As you might have guessed, we have a pretty wired campus:
- Fiber, ethernet, and dark fiber lines all across campus
- Complete wi-fi coverage
- Two rings of dark fiber encircling the city of Rochester
- Direct fiber line to a switchbox in downtown Rochester, connecting to a backbone of the internet
- Fiber line on our side is switched with a DWDM box that splits the connection into 32 lambdas of light, each with a capacity of 10gb/s
- So yes, that's a network capacity of 320 gigabits per second
Pure speed aside, we're a pretty big target for hackers and the like. Moreover, computers on campus are subject to all the usual Windows problems of spyware and viruses. My desktop machine is fully protected, but I never bothered to connect my laptop to the network because of all the performance-hogging programs needed to stay safe. I really wanted to get my laptop online, but what options did I have?
Linux, that's what! I decided to go with the Ubuntu distro as I'd be coming into this as a total newbie. I can do some fairly advanced procedures on a Windows machine, but all of this Unix stuff was Greek to me. The CD image is easily downloadable, and that's what I did.
After a quick and simple installation, I had Linux on my machine! It comes with a ton of drivers pre-loaded, so everything worked perfectly for me pretty much out of the box (machine in question is a standard Dell laptop). The only exception concerned the screen resolution, but I was able to clear that up very easily by just browsing the Ubuntu forums. The Linux community isn't very big, but most people are very knowledgeable and quite helpful.
Getting everyday things done is a snap thanks to the suite of applications that come right in the install disc. You've got Firefox, OpenOffice, and image editor, games, and tons of other stuff. Everything is really nice to use, and the interface couldn't be simpler to figure out.
Again I installed this on a laptop, so I still wanted to be able to use it as such. Thankfully, the touchpad didn't have any problems working and the fans kick in when they should to keep everything nice and cool. All of the volume control and screen brightness buttons work as they should, and my battery life is just as good as when I had Windows installed.
Linux isn't right for everyone, but it fits the bill beautifully if you want to have a secure, stable, and flexible OS for all your everyday tasks. Better yet, OpenOffice can view and create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations compatible with MS Office and WINE is available for running that Windows app you just can't live without. For those of you that just want to try Linux, the downloadable CD from Ubuntu's site can be used to boot Linux from the disc. If you like Linux you can install it, and if you don't then you can just pop the disc out and be back to the Windows environment you're so familiar with.
And remember, it's really easy! Even a n00b like myself was able to get it up, running, and ready for use in the space of about 40 minutes.